15 Jun

Pandemic Archeology

Staying safely at home has given me time for long-envisioned projects. One of those is going through old scrapbooks and photo albums, my pandemic archeology project. Clearing them out will leave more room in my closet for shoes and hats – a noble cause, I thought. LOL

These materials date back to my school years, including report cards reminding me of the phrase that got me in trouble – Beth is very bright, but is not living up to her potential. Well, it’s hard to live up to your potential when you’re bored out of your mind. In many classes I spent the time drawing everything around me or creating colorful designs. Teachers sometimes tried to catch me out by calling on me when they saw me doodling instead of waving my hand, then got visibly annoyed when I knew the answer. It apparently never crossed their minds that I’d done the work, but  was bored.

Later, as an adjunct professor, I saw it as my responsibility to get students excited about marketing. A teacher’s job is to engage students in learning. Which, btw, kids naturally love to do, until school beats it out of them. That’s why I changed my major from art; weeks spent drawing coffee mugs didn’t do it for me.  Anyhow, reviewing these scrapbooks reminded me I used to draw. A lot. So drawing became a goal during social isolation.

This painting benefited from that. I redrew several elements to fix the perspective – then stopped.  Sometimes good enough is good enough. You can tell what it is. I’m an artist, not a camera. The point of the painting for me was to convey the light pouring in, the strong shapes inside, and that calm sense of readiness in “Before Lunch Rush.”


  1. Laurie, glad you love the painting, and that the story brought back memories. Of course she learned thanks to you, as you allowed her time and space to learn as quickly as she wanted to.

  2. I love it, especially the use of blue shades. That definitely brings calmness to the picture.
    Your story reminds me of a West Hartford high school student that I had. She dropped out of Conard as a senior because she was bored. I taught GED then, and she came to my class. I gave her the books, but it quickly became clear that I was not going to teach her anything because she was smarter than I was. When she got her GED, the woman in the office told me that she wasn’t supposed to say anything, but the bored student got the highest score of anyone taking the GED that year. She almost got a perfect score. No thanks to me!

  3. That would’ve been fun, Professora! And what a lovely compliment and interesting thought, Emma, about waiting for the rush, and our present reality.

  4. I would have enjoyed a class with you! Creative and colorful! The painting reflects our present reality in color

  5. So glad to know this struck a chord, Rob! Yes, independent thought and creativity are given great lip service, but it is indeed the rare organization that actually encourages them. Happy excavating!

  6. Oh, Beth, thank you for this! Drawing in class, being bored, not living up to potential .. I heard all of it to death. Over & over zero appreciation for independent thought. So heartening to hear them from someone whose talent & capability is clear. As for covid archaeology, this has occupied my non-work time since day one of house-bound. Unearthing more & more extraneous – as well as some lovely forgotten treasures is inspiring AND endless. The projects continue…

  7. Thanks for the compliments, Michelle! Quit at 80% sounds like the old corporate 80-20 rule, and good advice. As is getting away from our screens.

  8. This painting captures the moment beautifully. I love your use of color and contrast – and the glasses in the foreground. Super!!

    I too have been reminded to draw more or doodle like I used to. We are so used to hitting a keyboard or touch screen instead.

    Also, a wise art teacher once told me to “quit at 80%”. It one of about 100 quotes that roll through my head when I paint.

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